The candidates in the 1st and 9th District Commission races participated in a forum/debate sponsored by the Chamber PAC and held at the Chamber building.
The 1st candidates seemed to have a little bit of the "I agree with Governor Bush" syndrome going on, with little to separate them. On the few questions that produced discernible disagreement, I think I would have to with Garland. For example, Lowry trashed college students in his answer on rental registration, which he basically seemed to support, and he said he wanted "no new bars" downtown in response to a question about whether local government should be involved in regulating the daylife/nightlife balance downtown. Garland, on the other hand, opposed rental registration and suggested existing ordinances as the means to deal with rowdy, messy college students living in our neighborhoods, and didn't think it was government's job to tell business owners what kind of businesses to put downtown. I happen to agree on both accounts.
Then came the 9th debate. The day began with four candidates, but it was announced by moderator Tim Bryant at the beginning of the debate that the field had been narrowed to three by the resignation of Chuck Jones from the race (Mr. Jones reportedly phoned his opponents personally earlier in the evening to inform them of his resignation as well). Alvin Sheats chose not to participate, and so only Kelly Girch and Ed Vaughn took part in the debate. Both trumpeted their experience, Girch as an educator and Vaughn as a city planner and government contractor, as a reason to give them the job. Vaughn challenged the Chamber on why it had not done more to help downtown businesses, who in Vaughn's words have been getting "hosed" for the past four years under the current commission.
There are several more debates scheduled during the month of October for both the commission races and the mayor's race; it's late and so I don't remember dates right now, but I'll perhaps do another post with those later.